It was, at the same time, an innocent, sincere question and a dangerous trap.
As a veteran husband, I long ago learned to step cautiously around such a question. The question came from my wife and it concerned a sensitive topic I have been struggling to deal with.
Here is, said question.
“Isn’t it great that I’m home more now and we’re able to spend more time together?”.
I KNOW. Trap, right?
At the first of the year, my wife chose to enter a new phase in her career. The reason my wife chose to enter a new phase in her career is because-let’s face it-she’s not getting any younger.
Yep, my wife is at the point in her career where she can step back and work a little less. Sort of ease into a full-time retirement which, I’m told, may come in several more years.
Until that full-time retirement comes my wife has opted to reduce her work schedule. What that means is my wife now only works three days a week which allows her to spend two days a week home with me.
Home. With. Me. Two. Days.
What? No, it’s great. Really, it’s fine. I love sharing space that used to be occupied by only me with my wife.
Two whole additional days of space.
The problem, as I see it, is my wife has not yet adjusted to her new-found free time. See, my wife has a tough time dealing with free time.
This is a true story that I may, in the 20 years I’ve been writing this column, have told before. I mean what the heck after 20 years you’re bound to repeat yourself some time.
But even if I have told this story before it is germane (It’s a word. I looked it up.) to this situation.
My wife and I got married in Key West, Florida. Every morning in Key West, I would get up a little before my wife, walk across the street from where we staying to a little Cuban restaurant. At the restaurant I would buy a copy of the Miami Herald (at the time home to both the great Carl Hiaasen and the great Dave Barry) then I would go inside and order two cups of café con leche and two pieces of Cuban toast.
Then I would walk back to where we were staying, sit on our patio, read the paper, drink café con leche and wait for my wife to come outside and join me. And every morning, after my wife came outside, she would sit down and sip her café con leche while I read the paper.
And eventually, my wife would ask the same question she would ask every single morning we were in Key West.
“So, what do you want to do now?” is what my wife would ask.
And every single time my wife asked that question I would give the same answer.
“I’m doing what I want to do now,” is what I would say.
An answer totally unacceptable to my wife.
I’m one of those people who try to live in the now. I don’t like spending time looking too far ahead.
My wife is one of those people who hates to live in the now. My wife is one of those people who enjoys planning for the future. As far as my wife is concerned if she has no plan for the future it doesn’t exist.
The future, I mean.
So, the idea, even on vacation, that we didn’t have precise plans for our day drove my wife crazy.
And it still does to this day.
When I wake up in the morning here is the thought that runs through my head.
“Well, I’m up.”
Here is the thought that runs through my wife’s head when she wakes up.
“I’M UP! I’M UP! THERE IS SO MUCH I NEED TO DO TODAY. THERE ARE SOME MANY THINGS I WANT TO DO TODAY. I MUST GET OUT OF BED IMMEDIATELY AND ADD THOSE THINGS TO MY LIST THAT I STARTED YESTERDAY WHEN I WAS THINKING ABOUT ALL THE THINGS I NEED TO DO TODAY AND ALL OF THE THINGS I WANT TO DO.”
And that’s the thought that runs through my wife’s head on a DAY OFF FROM WORK!
By the way, you may have noticed my wife made reference to her “list.” My wife is big on lists. Lists are what keeps my wife’s life in order. In harmony. One with the universe, if you will.
Wait a second.
OK, I’m back. My wife just walked in to give me an update about some problem with her work email. An update I neither asked for nor expected.
What my wife does is constantly referring to her list and whenever she accomplishes something on it loudly announces “I can cross that off my list.”
It’s not so bad the first few hundred times my wife does that but after a while it tends to get sort of old.
This is a true story: The other day my wife announced she was going to take a shower and then said “So then I can cross that off my list.”
That’s right. My wife actually put the words “Take a shower” on her list and then once she took a shower crossed it off of her list.
Which brings me back to my wife’s question which prompted this whole column. Here is my response to that innocent, sincere and also dangerous question.
“No, of course those pants don’t make you look fat.”